Episode 104: “From Each According to Their Ability, to Each According to Their Needs”—Part 2
In this episode’s main segment, Andrew Kliman and Brendan Cooney conclude their discussion of this famous principle of distribution. (Listen to Ep. 103 for Part 1 of the discussion.) They talk about what the principle means and doesn’t mean, the part it plays within Marx’s overall argument in the Critique of the Gotha Program, and Edoardo Bellando’s recent exploration of the principle in his recent Ph.D. dissertation, ”From Each According to His Ability, to Each According to His Needs”: What Could it Possibly Mean, and What Lies Behind this Marxian Principle?
The discussion addresses a variety of questions associated with the principle: Was Marx advocating it? Is it a moral principle? Did Marx reject the concept of “right” or justice (Recht)? What socioeconomic conditions must exist before the principle can be realized? Does its realization require abundance? Why and when can a society be what Marx called “communist” (socialist), prior to the principle being realized? Will there be more than two phases of communist society? Is it helpful to think in terms of phases? Do libertarian and egalitarian criticisms of the principle apply to Marx’s employment of it? Is the fact that it is a general principle, not a specific plan, a good thing or a bad thing? What accounts for the principle’s popularity?
We welcome and encourage listeners’ comments, posted on this episode’s page.
Please visit MHI’s online print publication, With Sober Senses, for further news, commentary, and analysis.